Welcome to 2017, folks! It’s a new year with new resolutions ... lose weight, spend less, save more …. The list goes on.

Coffeen peggy
Coffeen was a former editor and podcast host with Progressive Dairy. 

According to Forbes, only 8 percent of people actually attain their New Year’s resolutions. What happens to the other 92 percent? Many abandon the objectives altogether before the tractors hit the field for spring planting.

Given the incredibly low success rate, do you wonder if there’s a better way that is simple, yet effective and meaningful?

What if you could sum up your goals and dreams of who you want to be and what you want to accomplish in 2017 in just one word?

Last year after a friend introduced me to the book “My One Word” by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. The idea is to “choose just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year.”


By focusing on character transformation and spiritual growth in one area, for one year, we can achieve more than we ever could by striving for mere “impulse control.”

It was pretty simple: Pick a word and stick with it for a year. I could do that. And it just so happened that there was a word I kept seeing over and over: obedience.

It wasn’t a word synonymous with fun, nor did it exude excitement; in fact, at first brush, it sounds limiting, restrictive and kind of boring, but I knew it was my “one word.”

I started incorporating the word “obedience” into my life, starting with a hot pink sticky note on my computer monitor as a daily reminder. But I found that I didn’t have to look for this word … it seemed to find me, and the more it popped up, the deeper understanding of it I gained.

For example, one morning my devotional stated, “Your job is simply to be obedient to God. God will handle everything else.” I stopped right there and read it again, thinking about all of the worthless worrying I do in a day, or my impulses to overprotect people I love or try to control my circumstances.

I suddenly realized that God wasn’t asking me to do all of these things; He was telling me to simply trust Him.

Then, this Bible verse jumped off the page:

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

I halted at this passage because I knew it was telling me to let go of the negative and self-deprecating thoughts that I had accepted as truth and, instead, start seeing myself through the unconditionally loving eyes of the Lord.

Now, 12 months later, I know exactly why God put that word on my heart. In the past year, I started letting go of many of the worries and stresses that drained my time, energy and joy, and I’ve adapted an attitude of gratitude for all that I have and all God has made me to be.

It turns out being obedient isn’t restrictive at all; in fact, it is incredibly freeing.

I am choosing one word again this year, and I encourage you to do the same. The book suggests starting by asking yourself reflective questions like these:

  • What kind of person do you want to become this year?
  • What drives your desire to be this kind of person?

Make a list of descriptive words based on characteristics of this type of person. From that list, reference a dictionary or Bible and research what the words mean, and listen with your heart and mind to select one that speaks to you.

As I turn the calendar to 2017, I already know the word that will define my year is “fearless.” In fact, opening my heart to write this very personal editorial is a testimony to it.

I challenge you to choose a word to focus on in 2017 – I even invite you to share it with me – and see how that word will change your life and your character, more than any resolution!  end mark

Peggy Coffeen